Imagine a battle royale match with three players left: Epic Games, Apple, and Google. Epic Games started the fight with the other two and isn’t backing down. Apple and Google don’t care so much about eliminating each other as neutralizing the threat posed by Epic Games.
That’s essentially what’s happening now, after Epic Games added direct payment options in the iOS and Android Fortnite apps to avoid giving Apple and Google a 30 percent cut of in-app sales. In retaliation, the tech giants banned Fortnite from their respective mobile app stores. Epic Games then responded with a lawsuit.
Of course, in this real-world example, the stakes are much higher than in any battle royale game: Profits and legal precedents are at stake. If Epic wins its lawsuit, it could open the door for many other apps and games to offer direct in-app payment options, too.
So, what does all this mean for current and aspiring mobile Fortnite players? The short answer is that existing players who already have the app installed can continue playing that version. New players on Android can sideload the app, but new Fortnite players on iOS don’t have that option.
Nothing has changed in terms of Fortnite’s availability on other platforms such as Windows, macOS (at least until Aug. 28), Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch. New players might want to start out there to avoid this mess.
Before Fortnite arrived on the Google Play Store in April, Epic Games required you to sideload the game onto your device. Now that Google has removed it from its app store, the sideloadable version is once again relevant, particularly for those who want the latest version of Fortnite.
Android install page. On non-Android devices, this page shows a QR code you can scan with your phone. On Android devices, this page includes a download link for the Epic Games app. Select that download link.
A security prompt that reads This type of file can harm your device. Do you still want to keep the .apk? will appear. Tap OK to dismiss the prompt and then open the .apk file.
Your browser will show a message: For your security, your phone is not allowed to install unknown apps from this source. Select the Settings option on this pop-up.
On the Install unknown apps page, toggle the Allow from this source option. Then, navigate back to the browser and hit the Install option. Once the installation completes, click the Open option on the resultant pop-up.
In the Epic Games app, first tap on the Fortnite thumbnail and then the Install button.
A pop-up similar to the one in the third step will display. Tap on the Settings option again to give the Epic Games app permission to install apps. After toggling that setting, return to the Epic Games app and tap the Install option.
Tap Open once the installation completes.
You may need to give Fortnite some permissions and tap through a prompt that warns you that the app was built for an older version of Android. Then you can sign in to your Epic account (or create a new one) and start playing.
Go back into your phone’s settings and revoke both your browser’s and the Epic Games app’s ability to install unknown apps.
We cannot stress enough the importance of revoking the ability to install unknown apps, particularly for your mobile browser. You never know what a website will try to download onto your device if that capability is left unchecked. We recommend you install an Android antivirus app to protect your device from malware and other harmful downloads. If you don’t feel comfortable with these steps from a security standpoint, there are plenty of other excellent Android games you download from the Google Play Store.
How to Play Fortnite on iOS
Apple’s removal of Fortnite has more drastic consequences than on Android, because installing the game directly from Epic Games is not an option. If you already have Fortnite installed on your phone, you can continue to play it, but you won’t be able to access any of the new season updates. If you previously had the game installed and deleted it for some reason, you may be able to reclaim it. Head to the App Store > Purchased > My Purchases to check for the game.
New iOS players are out of luck and currently have no official options to play Fortnite. If you absolutely must play Fortnite on iOS, you can try purchasing an iPhone with Fortnite already installed. Head to eBay, for example, and search for “iPhone with Fortnite installed.” We do not recommend you shell out thousands of dollars to buy an iPhone with Fortnite already installed, because that is quite frankly a ridiculous price to pay for a game that is free on so many other platforms. If you cannot fathom giving up on your mobile Fortnite dreams, consider buying a cheap Android phone instead.
For Apple-sanctioned mobile games, check out our roundup of the best Apple Arcade games.
Epic Games is now locked in lawsuits with Apple and Google for the foreseeable future. Android players can weather this storm better, because of the option to sideload the app, but iOS players aren’t as fortunate. No one knows how any of these companies will emerge from this standoff, but it is worth noting that Apple has taken fire over its App Store payment policies from Microsoft, Facebook, Netflix, and Spotify, just to name a few.
Again, you can play Fortnite for free on nearly every other gaming platform, so this impasse is unlikely to lead to Fortnite’s demise. Once you have it loaded up on your device of choice, check out our collection of Fortnite gameplay tips. Like other games in the battle royale genre—such as Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds and Fall Guys—Fortnite is just as much about luck as skill.